So, I'm thinking this has one more chapter in it... let me know if you agree.
I apologise for any discrepancies in the Italian, I fully blame Google Translate for that. I have no Italian knowledge at all unfortunately so I can't even proof read it.
When he returned to their table Hodges was struck by two things. Firstly, his argument with Elisabetta had drawn the attention of most of the restaurant patrons causing a flush to cross his cheeks immediately. Secondly, Morgan and Henry were not only oblivious to the attention but they seemed so deep in a whispered conversation he almost felt rude sitting down at the same table as them. He felt a strange pang of jealousy as he watched them and found himself frowning as he took his seat across from Morgan, completely ignoring Elisabetta by his side.
"I was just telling Henry about the first time you took me here..." Morgan smiled, he wasn't certain but there was a small amount of mischief in her grin and he narrowed his eyes suspiciously wondering exactly where she was going with this conversation.
"I don't think I recall..." He muttered, smoothing out a napkin on his lap and taking a sip of wine.
Of course, he did recall their 'date' with their parents. Despite the overwhelming air of disbelief he had felt during that time he had somehow been able to remember ridiculously tiny details. Things like the way her hair shone in the dim lighting and the way she tapped her nails nervously on the stem of her wine glass in between meals.
Morgan flicked her long hair over her shoulder and leaned across the table a little, as though she was keen to narrow the space between them. He could feel Elisabetta's eyes burning into him as his skin prickled with the scrutiny.
"Oh David you remember..." She cooed and Hodges was suddenly very wary of the route she was going. Elisabetta had tensed by his side as she watched them carefully, he knew he had to be very smart about how much Morgan revealed.
He tried everything to make her stop without using words, he and Morgan were incredibly skilled at the art of having a full conversation with only facial expressions, a fact he was genuinely proud of but this time she was either unaware of his attempts or she was ignoring him.
"Remember that double date?" Morgan smiled softly and placed her hand over his "with my dad and your mom..."
"Which one?" He laughed, finding the fact they had been on several dates with their parents ridiculously funny in that moment.
Henry was desperately trying to hold a conversation with Elisabetta, telling her all about his short time in Tuscany. He glanced at her briefly, her eyes fixed firmly on Morgan's hand as it rested on his in the centre of the table.
"At this place... " She continued, her fingertips drawing invisible patterns on his palm "What was it your Mom said?"
"My mother says a lot of things..." He dismissed, nervously pulling his hand away from Morgan's.
"Yeah I guess she does. Have you met Oliva yet Elisabetta?" Morgan pressed, meeting Elisabetta's eye in an act of defiance.
For a long moment the two women simply sat there with their eyes locked in some kind of epic mental stand-off. Henry squirmed uncomfortably in his seat, glancing around for the waiter. Hodges wished he would turn up with their meals just to distill the tension he could feel filling his chest cavity.
"Who is Olivia?" Elisabetta questioned, a frown dancing over her deep, dark eyes.
Morgan smiled and sat back in her seat as though declaring her victory as Hodges found he was completely lost for words, struck dumb by this incomprehensible display of one-upmanship.
"Oh, I assumed David would have introduced you to his mother in Italy..."She purred.
Hodges simply stared at her open-mouthed across the table. Elisabetta was watching him, waiting for his answer or explanation as the waiter placed their plates on the table silently.
"We... had more important things to do..." Hodges finally stated.
Elisabetta smiled and flashed a victorious glance towards Morgan, her hand rested on his leg under the table and he began to concentrate really hard on calming his breathing.
"Of course, I understand." Morgan nodded, her tone suggesting she knew something Elisabetta did not. This had the Italian beauty on guard immediately and she began to squeeze Hodges leg.
"Why have I not met your mother David?" She questioned, twisting in her seat to face him and wait for her answer.
The silence hung very heavily in the air between them. Hodges stared at Morgan who held his eye with an unwavering icy stare. Elisabetta watched Hodges, her hand now resting on the table palm down against the cool dark wood. Henry shifted uncomfortably once more, unsure exactly what he should be doing.
"David has mommy issues..." Morgan finally stated, breaking the icy silence but holding Hodges' eye all the same with one arched eyebrow as though daring him to disagree with her.
"I do not have 'Mommy issues' I just... my mother is... special. She's judgemental and narcissistic and sometimes she's just plain mean and she wouldn't approve of this..."
"You know he told me all this when we pretended to date too..." Morgan interrupted "She's actually very nice. We have coffee..."
Hodges wasn't sure whether to be more surprised Morgan had told Elisabetta about their faux relationship or the fact that she was seeing his mother behind his back.
"you dated this bimbo?" Elisabetta demanded an answer, her hand slamming on the table and all eyes turning in their direction once more.
"No, we pretended 'fingere'" He desperately tried to calm her down and explain the situation but he could tell by the fire in her eyes she was in no mood to listen. He turned his eyes to Morgan, hoping to find some sympathy and friendship but was faced with a similar fire he had found in Elisabetta.
"I'm not a Bimbo..." Morgan shot towards Elisabetta before turning to him looking for back up "David will you please tell her I'm not a bimbo?"
"I'm not sure there is an Italian word for Bimbo" Henry pointed out.
He was attempting to lighten the situation unfortunately he failed miserably and Morgan's irate stare turned to him.
"I'm pretty sure she understands that one in English Henry!" She cried.
"Please... essere bello?" Hodges whispered.
"Non voglio essere gentile con questa donna!" Elisabetta shook her head.
"Ho bisogno di questo" Hodges replied in stilted Italian.
"Your italian is getting better..." Morgan almost sighed "remember that all nighter we pulled trying to learn Italian together... I guess now I know why"
She kept her eyes focussed sadly on the table, picking her nails and suddenly looking so much more vulnerable and hurt than he had ever noticed in her before. Elisabetta was furiously tugging at his arm as he watched Morgan and felt his heart tearing in two.
"What is this 'all nighter'?" Elisabetta cried as he attempted to ignore her concentrating instead on Morgan twirling her fork around between her fingers and examining his food.
"It's nothing." He grumbled.
Elisabetta turned her attention to Henry as he held his fork in mid-air. She tilted her head and raised her eyebrows and Hodges knew that Henry would be completely defenceless to her intense stare.
"It's when you stay up all night... you know..." He stuttered, unaware that his explanation implied that an all nighter was a lot more promiscuous than it actually was.
"Per tutta la notte!" Elisabetta muttered.
"No, not ... not like that" Hodges shifted his eyes between his fiancée and his best friend finding himself torn between the two. He wanted to reassure Elisabetta that nothing had happened between himself and Morgan but at the same time he had this unexplainable need to do it without letting Morgan think that there never would be.
"Sei stato sveglio tutta la notte con il suo parlare la lingua dell'amore, ed è 'not like that'!?"
"I have no idea what's going on..." Henry whispered towards Morgan as they retreated from the argument stewing before them.
"I think we just learned how to swear in Italian." Morgan answered with a small sideways smile.
"Morgan and I...we're just friends" Hodges insisted, looking to her for back-up he wouldn't get. She felt bad for causing so much conflict in his relationship but consoled herself with the fact that she knew she had his best interest's at heart. Elisabetta was not what Hodges needed, that didn't neccesarily mean that she was what he needed but she was certain Elisabetta was wrong for him. "Imici... That's all"
"Imici..." Morgan whispered into her meal "ouch"
"Harsh" Agreed Henry.
"In Italy we don't 'Per tutta la notte' with our friends..." Elisabetta told the entire restaurant with Hodges grasping her arm and speaking through his teeth to calm her down.
"I know but please... stop worrying. Calmare" He hissed.
"Calmare" Repeated Henry, holding up his glass towards Morgan.
She smiled despite the situation and tapped her glass against his with a nod of her head.
"Calmare" She said.
Elisabetta stared at them through narrowed eyes as they tucked into their food. Morgan could feel her eyes burning into her over a prolonged period of time before she finally relented and gave her her attention.
"Non mi piace il suo" She demanded.
"Elisabetta!" Hodges reprimanded.
Morgan frowned. The way Hodges was behaving suggested that she had just been insulted.
"What did she say?" She queried.
"Nothing." He declared a little too quickly for her liking.
Henry tapped a few buttons on his phone and turned to Morgan.
"She said she doesn't like you" He explained, waving the phone in Hodges direction as he glared at his 'friend' and seethed with anger. "Translation... there's an app for that!"
"Well I don't like her much either" Morgan stated, crossing her arms across her body and pursing her lips.
"Morgan, please" Hodges begged.
He reached out his hand to her, hoping that there was a way to smooth over this whole thing. He hadn't imagined his meal would ever go this way, for some reason he had genuinely hoped it would have gone well. Best case scenario had been for the women to actually like each other, something he knew was unlikely and yet he had never suspected this date would have awoken such hatred.
"Well what do you expect?" Morgan sighed, snatching her hand away.
"Sta cercando di rubare voi!" Elisabetta piped up, Henry practically holding the phone up to her face in an attempt to translate her war cry.
"No, no she isn't" Hodges replied, keeping his eyes on Morgan like she was some kind of specimen. Morgan hated how he could somehow see right through her. She liked to think she was at least a little bit of a mystery to some but to David Hodges she was completely transparent.
"She thinks you're trying to steal him" Henry informed her.
"Yeah well maybe she's right!" Morgan cried, immediately regretting allowing the words pass her lips.
"I knew this!" Elisabetta declared her victory and slid her plate across the table.
"Oh come on... you are both being ridiculous!" Hodges waved off their argument as much as he could.
"I think it's quite hot" Henry muttered, receiving the glares of both women as they finally joined forced to tell him to shut up.
"At least I'm not using him to get into the country" Morgan attacked, directing her words directly at Elisabetta.
"Morgan..." He begged.
"Well its true" She huffed, returning her eyes to the table.
"Che tipo di donna farebbe questo? è possibile che non la vedo più" Elisabetta moaned.
"Elisabetta... you don't get to decide that" Hodges retaliated.
Morgan frowned "Decide what?"
A palpable silence filled the space before Hodges waved his hand.
"It doesn't matter" He said, his voice sad and quiet.
Henry slid a little closer to her and muttered loudly in her ear "She said he can't see you anymore"
"Thanks Henry, real helpful" Hodges cried, shaking his head and narrowing his eyes at the other man cursing the day a translate app was ever invented.
"Oh I think its plenty helpful..." Morgan cried, clutching her jacket and swiftly storming out of the restaurant. She realised as she marched outside that she couldn't bear to be around when he made that particular decision.
"Morgan..." Hodges whimpered after her.
"Si va dopo la sua e io tornare in Italia stasera" Elisabetta demanded.
"Elisabetta..." Hodges massaged the bridge of his nose, feeling his stress levels shoot through the roof.
"No, you decide. Now" Elisabetta pushed, her eyes holding steady and her lips pressed into a firm line. Hodges thought hard about this decision. He wondered what his life would be like should he turn his back on her for Elisabetta, he had never thought to picture a life without Morgan. She was such a huge part of his life that it never entered his mind that she might not be there. The feeling that he couldn't live without her hit him like a ton of bricks all at once. He found himself feeling breathless as his heart pulled him towards her and he realised that he had already made his decision. It was always going to be Morgan, nobody could outshine her.
"Allora mi dispiace" Hodges bowed his apologies as he moved further away before taking off at a run towards the door and Morgan.
"Well... that was awkward" Henry muttered, taking a long drink of his wine and keeping his eyes on the table as he tried to stave off the embarrassment of a very public breakup.
"Get me a Taxi Henry" Elisabetta demanded.
Henry knew enough about Elisabetta to know not to argue with her. Instead he downed the last of his drink and nervously stood up to help her into her jacket wishing he had stood his ground and had a take-out with his fish tank instead.